24th February 2021

posted 24 Feb 2021, 08:10 by Liz Pattinson

24 February 2021

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,                                                                                                                                                                    

As always, I hope you and your family are well. As expected, several announcements have been made regarding the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions as well as the future re-opening of schools for all students. We have received two updates from the Department for Education and the Senior Leadership Team have consulted about the plans for the return of Alde Valley Academy students starting from Monday 8 March 2021.

We are extremely aware that there are a number of our staff, students and parents who are anxious about our return to school. I can assure you that all decisions have been made following scientific advice to minimise the potential spread of infection whilst returning to some semblance of normality. This phase of the return to school will be as close to what the students are already used to, incorporating the need for testing, and will be reviewed again once we reach the Easter holidays (return Monday 12 April 2021).

Please find below the answers to the questions that you may have:

When will the students be returning to school?

Testing and return of students will be phased during the first week to manage the number of pupils passing through the test site at any one time.


Students will return to school on the following days:

·         Years 10 & 11: Monday 8 March

·         Years 8 & 9: Tuesday 9 March

·         Year 7: Wednesday 10 March


What will Years 7-9 do on the days that they are not required back in school?

All students will return to using their normal school timetable (Week 2) from Monday 8 March. Students who are at home will continue with their Remote Learning on the days that they are not required in school.


Can my child continue to attend Keyworker School until they are due back into lessons?

Students who are currently attending Keyworker School are encouraged to attend school as normal until they return to normal lessons. For the week beginning Monday 8 March all students on site will be expected to wear full school uniform whether in lessons or Keyworker School.


Will the students still be in separate ‘Pods’?

Yes. All of the school Covid precautions which existed before the Christmas holidays will still be adhered to. This includes, but is not limited to:

·         The separation of year groups in ‘pods’ in different parts of the school including social areas (teachers move between classes)

·         Designated entrances/exits for each year group

·         Sanitising and cleaning expectations

·         Designated toilet facilities for year groups



Have the rules on wearing face coverings in school changed?

Yes. The DfE now recommends that face coverings should be worn in the school building including in classrooms. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity; for example in PE lessons.   This is an additional precautionary measure for a limited time during this period of high coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence in the community.


Face visors or shields should not be worn as an alternative to face coverings. They may protect against droplet spread in specific circumstances but are unlikely to be effective in reducing aerosol transmission when used without an additional face covering.


What are the arrangements for Lateral Flow Testing in school?

All students are offered 3 tests, 3 to 5 days apart as part of their return to school. Following these tests we will be moving to a home testing model (for students, following the first 3 onsite tests). The lateral flow devices used have received regulatory approval from the MHRA for self-use. Home test kits will be available for all staff on return. Once pupils have been tested 3 times at school, they will be provided with home test kits for regular testing.


The testing will be carried out by a team of fully trained staff and volunteers on a daily basis for the first two weeks. We are extremely grateful for the time and expertise that our team have devoted to support us setting up and running this system which has been extremely successful testing staff and keyworker children.


The timetable for testing is as follows:
















Years 10/11

Years 8/9

Year 7

Years 10/11

Years 8/9



Year 7

Years 10/11

Years 8/9

Year 7

Catch up


What happens if I haven’t returned the consent form?

Testing remains voluntary but strongly encouraged. We can only carry out the testing of students with a completed consent form from a parent.


If you have not already done so, please complete the consent form here.


Do students need to wear full school uniform?

Yes. All uniform expectations are the same as they were before Christmas. Students should still wear PE kit on the days that they have PE on their timetable but all other times must wear full school uniform.


Will Year 11 students return to tests and mock exams?

No. We are very conscious that the uncertainty around schooling and exams is extremely worrying for Year 11 students in particular. For this reason, our only focus for the remainder of this term is to get students back into school, support them in lessons and reassure them that the situation is under control. Any ‘mock exams’ which were planned for the students’ return in January have been postponed until after Easter in the first instance and will be reviewed along with all other arrangements and precautions.


Details of how GCSE grades will be awarded this year have still not been released. As soon as they are we will be making arrangements to ensure all of our students are awarded the grades that they deserve in line with DfE guidance and moderation.  


Can I choose to send my child into school or not?

From 8 March all pupils should return to school and attendance will be mandatory once again from this date. Students not undergoing testing should attend school in line with the school’s phased return arrangements. If you are a parent of a child that is vulnerable or if you are a critical worker, your child should continue to be able to attend school throughout, unless they receive a positive test result.  Mandatory attendance means that it is your legal duty as a parent to send your child to school regularly. Where a secondary age pupil is not expected to attend due to their school’s testing programme in the week of 8 March, absence will not be penalised.

 A small number of children and young people may be unable to attend in line with public health advice to self-isolate. Schools will still be required by law to provide remote education to any pupils who need to continue to learn from home. If you think that your child is eligible to continue to work from home for a medical reason, appropriate evidence as to why pupils cannot attend should be provided. The school may check that your child is advised not to attend school by asking to see a copy of the shielding letter sent to you.

We are fully aware that the extended lockdown will have placed additional mental stress on a number of our students. If you have any concerns about the mental wellbeing of your child please contact school and we will endeavour to support you through this process. Please however remember that normal school attendance regulations will be in place and therefore any absence will be dealt with accordingly as per the school attendance policy.



We are looking forward to welcoming back all of our students from Monday 8 March. Whilst I have tried to answer any questions that you may have, I am conscious that there may be some questions that I have not addressed. If this is the case I would urge you, as always, to contact me on the following email address:




I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of our staff for their hard work throughout this lockdown period. This includes the site, admin, pastoral, support, volunteers and teaching staff who have really pulled together to offer our community the best provision possible during this difficult time. I would also like to thank the community for your support, particularly around providing electronic devices for our students to continue with home learning.

Yours faithfully,


Dan Mayhew